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Muscle spindle activity in man during voluntary fast alternating movements.
  1. K E Hagbarth,
  2. G Wallen,
  3. L Löfstedt

    Abstract

    Single unit activity in primary spindle afferent nerve fibres from finger and foot flexors was recorded with tungsten microelectrodes inserted into the median and peroneal nerves of healthy subjects. During voluntary fast alternating finger and foot movements, simulating the tremor of Parkinsonism, two types of discharges were seen in the Ia afferent fibres: (1) stretch responses occurring during the flexor relaxation phases, and (2) discharges occurring during the flexor contraction phases. Contrary to the stretch responses the spindle contraction discharges could be eliminated by a partial lidocaine block of the muscle nerve proximal to the recording site, indicating that they resulted from fusimotor activation of intrafusal fibres. On the basis of the temporal relations between the beginning and end of individual EMG-bursts, the start of the spindle contraction discharges and the latency of the stretch reflex in the muscles concerned, the following conclusions were drawn: the recurrent extrafusal contractions in movements of this type are initiated by the fast direct alpha route, but individual contraction phases generally last long enough to be influenced subsequently by the coactivated fusimotor loop through the spindles. It is postulated that this gamma loop influence during alternating movements helps to keep flexor and extensor muscles working in a regular reciprocal fashion with contractions adjusted in strength to the external loads.

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